Random Film of the Week: Horror High

Horror High aka The Twisted Brain MPIt’s pretty cool to see a film you grew up watching a few times in the late 70’s and early 80’s pop up again thanks to it now being in the public domain and completely uncensored. That said, it’s too bad the low-budget cheapie known as The Twisted Brain on TV and Horror High when it was in theaters hasn’t been restored to a more fitting print. The version I have on one of the Mill Creek Entertainment box sets is in such ratty condition that it looks as if were clawed up by the transformed teenage monster out for revenge.

Still, even in that messed up print found on the DVD*, Larry N. Stouffer’s 1974 film still makes for some hilarious, bloody good fun. You’re not getting anything resembling a “best” genre film here at all. It’s just a Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde variant meets I Was a Teenage Werewolf and that’s that. Continue reading

Film Review: WYRMWOOD: Road of the Dead

WyrmwoodROTDposterLike a shambling dead thing encased in a suit of the strongest armor, the zombie in popular culture is pretty unstoppable even at this point of over-saturation. That said, it’s a fine day indeed when someone comes up with a new angle on the undead while making a crowd pleasing viewing experience worth running out and catching in a theater or owning on a disc down the road. Welcome to WYRMWOOD: Road of the Dead, director Kiah Roache-Turner’s first (and hopefully not last) film that deserves a place in horror fan’s still beating hearts.

As that poster to the left states, what you’re getting is more or less Mad Max meets Dawn of the Dead, but the film is a lot more than that handy to memorize tagline suggests. Co-writers Tristan Roache-Turner, Kiah Roache-Turner have cooked up a fast-paced action flick that blends biting wit and dramatic bits just about perfectly. A cast of likable thrust into their post-zombie apocalyptic heroics characters, some truly nasty villains and yes, hordes of zombies keep things pumping and the film never wears out its welcome even when it deftly ventures into cliche territory. Continue reading

Film Review: CUT!

CUT MPJust when you think the modern Hollywood horror film has been all tapped out, along comes one of those movies that keeps you guessing even if you think you know what’s coming. Director/co-writer David Rountree tosses some tasty ideas into his chunky horror stew that will keep you hooked in and guessing right up until the double (or is it triple?) back-flip ending. It’s tricky to discuss the film in detail without spoiling a few of its twists and turns, but if you’re paying attention you may see a few of the surprises coming.

That said, if you go in with expectations of yet another slasher film, it’s a good sign that the movie shoots you down a few predictable paths before whipping the red carpet from underneath you much more than you’d think. Rountree also stars in the film as Travis Simon, an employee of a film equipment rental shop who works with Lane (David Banks), an ex-con with a rather nasty disposition and a particularly unsettling hobby. When Travis decides to make a low-budget horror film with Lane’s help, let’s just say things go predictably awry and downhill fast. A little accidental death during the making of their film doesn’t deter the pair from continuing their project and in fact, spurs Lane on as he starts taking things a bit too seriously. Continue reading

Memory Lane Trailer: Be Still, My Beating Heart (Once More)


 

Question of the day (or at least the very second you’re reading this): Would you kill yourself (and a few times at that) in order to solve the murder of someone you love? That’s the somewhat shocking premise of Memory Lane, a thriller coming to Blu-Ray/DVD on March 24, 2015 courtesy of MVD Visual and Wild Eye Releasing.

Memory Lane MP
 

How’s this for a plot:

“When PTSD-plagued war vet Nick returns home and finds that his finance Kayla has committed suicide, he decides to take his own life, but what he sees in flashbacks moments before he is resuscitated leads him to believe Kayla was murdered. Now Nick must travel back and forth between our world and the afterlife in a search of her killer – but to do it, he will need to die over and over again.”

Memory Lane has already been compared to films such as Memento, Primer and Pi, and that’s some pretty decent company, I’d say. Of course, I’d probably add in references to everything from Flatliners, Jacob’s Ladder and Groundhog Day (minus the humor, of course), but I haven’t yet seen this flick. I want to, though. The premise is intriguing enough to get me to want to sit down with this from start to finish, something not a lot of modern horror-like films do.

Poltergeist Trailer: Ghosts in the Shell of the Pedigree of Diminishing Returns

Poltergeist BIG Banner 


 

Okay, the only reason I’m giving this remake the time of day is because I like Sam Rockwell in anything he’s done. That said, I’m not sure Poltergeist needed a remake at all, given the original still holds up to a good extent as a classic horror film. Granted, with Sam Raimi producing and Gil Kenan (Monster House, City of Ember) behind the lens, this remake is bound to do a few really interesting things with the concept. At least we know there will be plenty of CG effects, some of which look like practical ones.

The main problem I see with the new film is what happens afterward. I’m gathering this is more a reboot that pretends the original film never existed as opposed to a remake that hints at the old film. Opinion time: the other films in the original series weren’t all that good and the TV series went way off into weird-land (although it did have and has a rather loyal fan base). If this does well at the box office (and it should), expect the inevitable sequel train to roll onwards. If there are sequels, I’d bet you a nickel that Rockwell won’t come back for seconds and has to be replaced by a new actor. Unless he’s needing a new house, boat or train (or all three) and can be easily nabbed to return for a bigger paycheck, of course. Of course, I can see Fox deciding to take this ghost train on the road and greenlight a sequel or sequels that follow other angry ghosts across America trying to get the point across that you don’t build your new housing on top of their old dead heads.

Eh, we’ll see what’s what soon enough. Color me tentatively intrigued for now.

CUT! Your Friday the 13th Just Got A Little Scarier

CUT MP 

I just realized that February has a Friday the 13th rolling up, but I’m not the superstitious type these days. Real life tends to do more damage if you’re unprepared for it, so dodging black cats climbing mirrored ladders while carrying buckets of salt in their mouths doesn’t faze me one bit. That said, Psycho Rock Productions and Dog House Post’s new indie horror film, CUT!, (set for a DVD and VOD release February 24), will be getting a special week-long screening for horror fans in the Los Angeles area. From February 13 – February 19, 2015 the film will be showing at the Arena Cinema Hollywood (1625 N. Las Palmas Ave, Hollywood, CA 90028).

You’d like to see the trailer, right? Fine, then. Here you go:

“What’s it all about, Alfie?,” you ask? Well, thank you for asking and here’s a bit more to read:

cut movie banner 

In CUT!, the apparent is never the truth as an ex-con and aspirant filmmaker set out to manufacture a film by scaring people for real; however, when it goes too far and someone actually dies, the pair decide that killing for real on film is the only way to make a truly terrifying movie.

CUT 1

CUT 2

Well, my teeth are chattering already and that’s despite the heat not working here at the library today. Directed by David Rountree and starring David Banks, Dahlia Salem, Sam Scarber, Allen Maldonado and Suze Lanier-Bramlett, CUT! won Best Film, Best Director, Best Leading Actor, and the Award of Merit for Audio at the 2014 Independent Film and Television Festival and was named by Movie Rankings as one of the Top 5 Horror Movies of 2014. Hmmm. If it’s as good as all those awards make it out to be, I’m going to be typing my review from about halfway under the couch. There’s a screener on the way, so I’m keeping my fingers crossed…

Random Film of the Week(end) Quickie: The Pit and the Pendulum (Or: That Funky Cold Medina)

The Pit and the Pendulum 1961So, here’s how MY Saturday night went. I’m sitting in the living room watching “The Price of Fear” marathon on This TV (which seems to be an offshoot of WPIX here in NYC that shows better movies, albeit edited for network standards) and during a commercial break in The Pit and the Pendulum (I know, I know – but I can’t pass up those Vincent Price/Roger Corman films anywhere they’re aired), I heard some loud music booming outside from someone going deaf in his or her car.

A few seconds later I end up nearly falling off the couch laughing because the song playing with its bumpy bass hanging out the window is none other than Tone Loc’s ode to lousy overpriced wine, Funky Cold Medina. Bwah and ha. Suddenly, my Saturday night got a great deal more interesting…

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Film Review: Alien Outpost

AlienOutpost_posterSet in the near future and packing quite a punch, Alien Outpost (Outpost 37) is a sci-fi action film genre fans will absolutely want to check out in theaters or on VOD. Directed by Jabbar Raisani, the film’s pseudo-documentary style does a decent job of setting up a not too far in the future world (2021) decimated by an alien invasion turned into a years-long standoff. Pitting a small yet dedicated group of soldiers against a weakened but still overwhelming force in a small, deadly area between Pakistan and Afghanistan, the men of Outpost 37 will face hazards and horrors from the aliens who have begun to use some of the locals to their advantage.

The film works well on a visceral level because despite some humorous banter flitting in and out between the soldiers, the tone is dead serious and believable to a good extent. It would have been nice to see more of the main enemy, though. Other than a short bit at the camp, those Heavies are only viewed briefly during action sequences and mostly at a distance. However, from the brief but impressive CG footage that opens the film and assorted “news” clips of destruction worldwide, we can see that they came, saw and almost conquered the planet. Troops around the world initially sent out to combat the Heavies end up stuck where they are thanks to the war dragging on so long that it’s become an underfunded albatross of a conflict. Yes, the movie can be seen as a heavy handed allegory, but it’s an entertaining heavy-handed allegory provided you’re not expecting epic battles and don’t mind the mirror the film holds up to current events.

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Alien Outpost Final Trailer: That Invasion? It’s Coming Sooner Than You Think!


 

AlienOutpost_posterThanks to a too crazy month of stuff knocking me about, I’d almost forgotten that Alien Outpost was arriving in theaters and on VOD this Friday. IFC Midnight has been putting out a nicely varied mix of genre films for a while now and between this one, Wyrmwood: Road of the Dead (yes, I’ll have a review up for that awesome indie shortly) plus a few other flicks on the way, it’s clear that massive budgets and major stars aren’t at all required to make compelling entertainment.

The mix of “found footage” documentary and intense sci-fi action should appeal to you weekend warriors looking for a little cinematic diversion to spend a slice of time with. Back with a review and more shortly…

Random Film of the Week(end): Malibu High

Malibu High MP 1979In the storied pantheon of “High school girl goes bad, turns to prostitution and murder to make ends meet, meets end tragically” films, Irvin Berwick’s 1979 exploitation classic Malibu High is probably the “best” of the bunch. Well, I’m not sure “best” is the proper word to use for a film this bizarre, but you genre fans know what I mean.

That cute poster on the left makes it look like a typical pre-80’s sex comedy flick packed with lowbrow laughs. But man, is it oh soooooooo misleading. Yes, there are laughs to be had here and plenty of them. But the film’s general tone straddles the line between parody and interesting attempts to be serious with breathtaking results… Continue reading